I was reading Davis Mattek’s exhaustive look at Larry Fitzgerald’s prospects in 2013 and became intrigued by the following paragraph:
Many have spoken about Arians’ ability to create favorable fantasy situations for wide receivers. He coached Mike Wallace to WR1 seasons in 2011 and 2010, Santonio Holmes to a WR2 campaign in 2009, and Hines Ward to WR15 in 2008. In fact, Holmes, Ward and Reggie Wayne all finished exactly as WR15 in their campaigns with Arians, which if nothing else, is at least a funny coincidence.
I took a look at Arians’ stints as the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns (2001-2003), as wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers (2004-2011) and offensive coordinator and interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts last year. Reviewing the data, it is clear that Arians’ offenses have room for more than one WR to perform.
The table below shows the years in which Bruce Arians coached multiple receivers to top 50 finishes.
Top 50 WR Rankings with Arians (STD)
22, 36, 47
26, 39, 47
23, 42, 46
15, 32 47
15, 16, 28
Arians is not known as the wide receiver whisperer for nothing. So let’s take a closer look at Arians’ wide receivers. I wondered if there is any way to predict who Bruce Arian’s shiny new toy(s) will be? Taking a look at the prototypical Arians receiver, it becomes clear that, in the same way that some like blonds or redheads, Arians too has a type. Below is a list of all the fantasy relevant Arians drafted or coached WRs from 2001 to present.
Top 50 WR Ranking with Arians (STD)
15, 18, 32, 43
10, 23, 26, 30, 15, 16, 39
5, 9, 28
Notice a trend? Arians likes small to medium-sized speed receivers. Now, who looks most like an Arians WR to you?
Now of course, Larry Fitzgerald is a first-ballot hall of famer. However, at Rotoviz, we’re especially interested in getting something for nothing, and as Davis pointed out, at his ADP of WR8, theres very little room for upside. So we’re going to ignore Fitz for the remainder of this article, especially since we know that Fitz’s success in Arians’ offense shouldn’t preclude other WRs from having top 25 WR value.
What about Michael Floyd? He certainly has the speed to fit in an Arians offense, and has intriguing measurables that are very similar to Fitz’s. In discussing Floyd with Shawn Siegle, he noted, “Floyd has a great Height-adjusted Speed Score, but his college profile doesn’t necessarily suggest a vertical receiver or a dominant red zone presence. Floyd’s yards per target number is really low and his red zone touchdown rates were always so-so for a big fast guy. Floyd probably projected more as a late first round pick as opposed to a Top 15 pick.”
Shawn’s observations are borne out by comparing him to other elite wide-receivers using Rotoviz’s excellent College Career Receiver Graphs App. (Unfortunately, the app doesn’t have college information for Roberts, so he wasn’t included.)
Of course, it is impossible to rule out Michael Floyd. However, his hype train has been slowly gaining steam, having risen two rounds in the last month, and by the time most people draft, he may end up being a little too expensive given his lack of production to date. Here’s his recent ADP, courtesy Fantasy Football Calculator.
So that leaves Andre Roberts. I recall being mildly impressed with Andre Roberts at the beginning of the season, when he reeled off four TDs in four games, along with 15 catches and 244 all-purpose yards. Roberts ultimately disappointed, as he would finish the year with only 64 receptions for 759 yards and five touchdowns, pedestrian numbers at best. However, remembering what a dumpster fire the Cardinals passing game/offensive line was last year, I took a look at the Cardinals passing stats as a whole. The Cardinals totaled 3005 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, giving Roberts a market share of 25% of Arizona’s passing yards and 45.5% (!!) of Arizona’s passing touchdowns. Not too shabby.
So what is Andre Roberts like as an athlete? Looking at the below chart created by MockDraftable.com, we can see that not only does Andre Roberts have excellent measurables, but also is comparable to some athletes that experienced success at the NFL level, including Reggie Wayne.
So I took a look at what RotoViz’s WR similarity scores app thought of Andre Roberts’ prospects going into 2013. Note that the app doesn’t know that Bruce Arians is now coaching the Arizona Cardinals. Here is his stat line and comparables for 2012.
Comparables Season N
Two Arians coached WRs show up on the list of comparables, including Santonio Holmes the year before his best season. Additionally, we see Reggie Wayne listed as a comparable WR by Rotoviz after he was identified as having comparable measurements by MockDraftable. Did I mention that Andre Roberts is in a contract year? And he’s going undrafted? So what do Roberts’ comparable receivers look like for next year?
|A. Roberts||Standard||Half PPR||PPR|
Comparables Season N+1
Again, I may be cherry-picking but the stats for Santonio Holmes and Reggie Wayne to show the type of upside I like to have in my last draft pick. Ultimately, Andre Roberts may end up being a bust, but at the price that you’re paying (undrafted), the upside to get a top 25 WR (look at the bolded numbers on the chart above) is definitely there. In fact, as James Goldstein has demonstrated with his Wide Receiver upside rankings, Andre Robert’s upside (39.1) is greater than Chris Givens’ (34.0) and T.Y. Hilton’s (37.7), two similar speed receiver sleepers with upside. (Shawn Siegele also explored the issue further in his 10 Breakout Wide Receivers article for FanSided.) At the end of the day, Andre Roberts is the type of upside lottery ticket that I want on my roster.